A month ago I did some amateur statwork and came up with notion that the Capitals would need about 54 points to make it into the playoffs. Let’s revisit that notion, shall we?
At 15 games into the season, or about one-third of the way through, we were standing at an abysmal 11 points in 15 games. Now, at 32 games and exactly two-thirds of the way through, we have 32 points. That leaves, of course, 16 games left in which to get 23 points.
This is complicated slightly both by how obscenely tight the standings are — 3 points separate 12th from 8th — and how perversely bad the Southeast is. The Jets have the 3-seed because they are leading the division, though their 36 points would actually be good for 7th. The Capitals are a trivial 5 points from that vaunted position themselves, and as we seem to be the Jets’ personal kryptonite, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that we could actually claim that slot for ourselves.
The Caps may take the 3-seed by winning the Southeast, or they may creep timidly into 7th or 8th, but either way, they will be facing a team that is statistically better than them. It doesn’t look likely that anyone will catch Pittsburgh, and as we’ve dropped all three games to them this season, that matchup seems destined for heartbreak. On the other hand, Toronto has Winnipeg bested by 2 points despite being in 6th. The 3-6 round is much less intimidating, but the Southeast division champ would still be going in as the underdog. That must make life tough for some poor guy at Bovada.
I can faintly recall complaining in the spring of 2010 that the last two months of the season were so dull, because the Caps played other Southeast teams 8 times in 2 weeks and our playoff spot had been locked up ages ago, so everything seemed rather pointless. These last two seasons have made me wonder if it’s actually preferable to watch every game with a kind of desperate anguish. It definitely lends an artificial excitement to Yet Another Florida Panthers Game.